Montana de Oro (again!) & Monterey Aquarium

After trading Facebook messages with Emma for a couple of weeks, coincidentally we all ended up in San Luis Obispo on the same night. I met Emma & Brent at Easter two years ago (just before I left NZ) on what I still maintain is perhaps the best riding trip I’ve ever been on. We (a group of about thirteen – all from Napier/Hastings, except me) rode the Queen Charlotte Walkway at the top of the South Island over the long weekend. With big climbs, fantastic downhills, spectacular scenery, wonderful autumn/fall weather & a great group (I only knew one guy before the trip) – it’s a ride I’ll remember for a long time. Brent & Emma have quit their jobs back home, rented out houses & are now planning on taking four to five months to do a similar loop to what Valerie & I are currently doing (except in the opposite direction, starting from San Francisco). It was with just a little jealously that I listened to how they’d set their minvan up with a bed & bikes in the back – sort of what I’d been planning on doing originally – & saw a trip with two keen bikers.

Only a week into their trip they’ve had much more excitement than we have (& they can keep it) – police drug raids in the motel room next door, (lack of) visa hassles, a tick removed under local anesthetic & then discovering a car down a bank with a very drunk woman at the wheel last night. It was great (mint) to catch up last night in SLO over a beer & share riding & road-trip stories, trade recommendations & listen to true-blue Kiwi accents (although Emma still has a little English there).

They rode the same trails yesterday afternoon that I had that morning, but I was keen to ride with them so we hit the trails again this morning. It was nice to have people to chat with on the climb & then someone to chase/chase me down the hills. We followed the same loop mostly that I did yesterday (except starting at the campsite) & once most of the way up East Boundary cut off to the right & rode Barranca back to the fireroad.

A lot foggier at the top of Hazzard Peak compared to yesterday.

Barranca had a little bit of a climb & then turned into the most technical (not too bad) downhill in the area – it was much more rocks & gravel than the packed dirt on Hazzard Peak & Manzanita. I had a good fun chasing Brent down & trying not to swallow too much of the dust he was kicking up around the corners.

A tick-infested (OK, he had one) man kindly took this at the top of Barranca

Yesterday I had spied a little bit of trail on the other side of the creek, so we dipped down, crossed the creek & rode the Reservoir Flats trail back to the campsite. It was a fantastic little ride in the morning fog, super nice to have some Kiwi riding buddies (albeit briefly) – with goodbyes & good-driving well-wishes we parted way.

We’re now on our way north up the Central Coast to the acclaimed Monterey aquarium. It was weird as we drove up the 101 seeing that big layer of marine cloud sitting off west over the ocean, while we are bathed in sunshine. It’s beautiful countryside to drive through – gorgeous hills on both sides with extensive vineyards giving way to multitudes of market gardens in the center (big rows of pickers’ cars parked along the side of the road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere).

Looking at the atlas just after leaving SLO, it looks like it’ll make much more sense to continue up the coast to Santa Cruz (good riding) & San Fran before heading east to Yosemite & up to Lake Tahoe (instead of Monterey, east to Yellowstone, west to San Fran with a day trip south to Santa Cruz, & east again to Tahoe). So that’s probably what we’ll do.

*We had a good few hours to look around the aquarium. It was pretty cool, but now that summer vacation has begun it was packed with families which made it a little difficult to see some of the animals. Is it a bad sign that the thing I will remember most is that the plural of fish over here is ‘fishes’? Actually, the jellyfish & the sea-horses (& kin) were the best things.

A leafy sea-dragon

So this is what a cuttlefish really looks like – all those years I thought it was for feeding (dead) parrots

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